With the Delhi Assembly elections today, let’s take a look at the candidates competing against incumbent Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) Chief Ministerial candidate- Arvind Kejriwal.

Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s Incumbent Chief Minister, is once again the chief ministerial candidate from Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) contesting from the New Delhi constituency. The New Delhi constituency was created by the delimitation commission in 2008. Historically, it has always been the constituency, which has been held by the Chief Ministers, as Sheila Dixit represented the constituency in the 2008 Elections before Kejriwal. The New Delhi Constituency has a sizeable population of Government employees and falls in the posh localities of Delhi.

With neither Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), nor the Indian National Congress (INC), releasing the names of their chief ministerial candidates, let’s take a look at the candidates competing from the New Delhi Constituency.

Sunil Yadav (BJP)

Sunil Yadav is an advocate by profession. Yadav started his political career as a Party’s Yuva Morcha. He currently holds the President’s Office of Yuva Morcha, Bharatiya Janata Party, Delhi (BJYM Delhi). He is the former Secretary of the Delhi unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party. While it was rumoured for him to get a ticket in the 2013 and 2015 Elections, this is Yadav’s first time contesting as a candidate.

Talking about the focus on national issues in the BJP manifesto over local issues, Sunil Yadav, said to theIndian Express, that he was fighting the election on local agenda. “I am talking about people living in clusters in my constituency. I am talking about their water and electricity bills.” He also claims, he is confident of a victory with a margin of 25,000 votes.

Romesh Sabharwal (INC)

Romesh Sabharwal is a former Student Leader, who has been associated with the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), and the Youth Congress three decades back. He was the President of NSUI Delhi State. This is Sabharwal’s first time contesting as a candidate.

He also claims that he is confident to beat Arvind Kejriwal. “He may be the CM of Delhi, but I am a local, as a Government servant and an honest taxpayer who understands the needs of the residents of the constituency,” Romesh Sabharwal told India Today.

Arvind Kejriwal (AAP)

Arvind Kejriwal joined politics formally in 2012, when he launched the Aam Aadmi Party. Before joining politics, Kejriwal worked in the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) as a Joint Commissioner, Income Tax in New Delhi. He is a graduate in Mechanical Engineering, from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur.

In 2006, Kejriwal was awarded with the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership in recognition of his involvement in the grassroots level movement Parivartan, using Right to Information legislation, in a campaign against corruption, post which he resigned from the Government Service. He has also been monumental in leading the Jan Lokpal Anti- Corruption movement, along with Anna Hazare and Kiran Bedi, in 2011.

Following the 2013 Delhi Assembly Elections, Arvind Kejriwal first took office as the Chief Minister of Delhi, in December 2013. However, in February 2014, he resigned due to his minority Government’s inability to pass his proposed anti-corruption legislation pertaining to lack of support from other political parties. In the 2015 Delhi Assembly Elections, the Aam Aadmi Party won 67 out of the 70 seats in Delhi, securing Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Ministerial Office again.

Both BJP and INC have pitched first- time candidates against Kejriwal in these elections.

Feature Image Credits: Outlook

Satviki Sanjay

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With the Delhi Assembly Elections today, we take a look at elections from an economic point of view, focusing on the money spent by candidates on political campaigning.

“For fifty years, we have been trained to believe that elections are a matter of life and death,” sternly opined Asaduddin Owaisi, a veteran Lok Sabha Legislator, in an informal interview with ScoopWhoop Unscripted, a month before the National Elections last year.

Though Mr Owaisi might have taken a few hyperbolic liberties while making this particular statement, one cannot deny the fact that elections are extremely significant moments in time in the history of any democracy, impacting the Nationwide dynamic and Government policies for the next few years, as well as fulfilling the political aspirations of successful candidates, and collapsing those of unsuccessful ones.

Every election sees the birth of a future leader or the rise of an existing one. Once in a while, more so in recent years, it also sees the fall of a stalwart. With such a prominent amount of reputation and power at stake, candidates standing in elections leave no stone unturned in ensuring that the majority of voters press their symbol on the ballot, spending enormous amounts of time and funds on election campaigning.

India’s Lok Sabha Elections in 2019 were deemed to be one of the world’s most expensive elections with an estimate of over INR 50,000 crores spent on electoral campaigning by parties and candidates across the Country. According to a study by the Delhi-based Centre for Media Studies (CMS), India’s election expenditure has risen six times since 1998, with the majority of the amount being spent on publicity campaigns. Costs include money spent on roadshows, billboard advertisements, television advertisements, social media campaigns, constituency tours, rallies, and music videos to name a few.

In fact, in the run-up to the 2020 Delhi Assembly Elections, the AAP Government introduced numerous freebies in the form of subsidies in electricity charges, free bus rides for women and removal of development fees for new water connections. The opposition leaders in the State questioned the economic viability of these recent freebies.

Besides these costs, parties also resort to illegitimate means of attracting votes, with reports of candidates distributing cash, clothes, land, smartphones and sometimes even alcohol to voters. The CMS study reports that around INR 15,000 crores in cash were distributed among voters in the 2019 National Elections.

This leads us to one question. Is all the money worth it?

It is no rocket science that, what matters is the appeal and reputation of the candidate, not the amount of money spent by the candidate and that on an average, a candidate with a favourable image shall garner a significant amount of votes regardless of the money spent by him/her.

The answer to this question exists in contrast. While the kindness of the world would have us believe that money does not matter, yet experience says otherwise.

Out of the humongous INR 50,000 crores spent in the Lok Sabha Elections last year, almost half of the costs were incurred by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who won by a comprehensive margin. But would a less expensive campaign have given them a less favourable result? We shall not know as long as there is not a detailed analysis of Indian elections and voting practices. But what we know is that as long as the voters of this country do not fall prey to political gimmicks and publicity campaigns, and instead decide to press a particular symbol on a ballot based on a thorough review of the candidate’s performance in the last five years, the essence of democracy and integrity shall remain intact.

Delhi Assembly Elections 2020, will be a test of heavy campaigning versus ideology. It will also answer many questions regarding the future discourse of Delhi and the political discourse of the Country. The current Chief Minister (CM), Arvind Kejriwal, won a ravishing majority in the past elections despite heavy campaigning by BJP. However, a new wave of social media campaigning, tremendous on- ground marketing had engulfed the Lok Sabha Elections. This wave might drown the Delhi Elections as well.

Feature Image Credits: The Statesman

Araba Kongbam

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On 17th January 2020, Miranda House hosted India Today’s Campus Face-off, which took a controversial turn after some students started protesting.

On 17th January 2020, India Today’s Rajdeep Sardesai and Aaj Tak’s Anjana Om Kashyap came to Miranda House for an edition of their show Campus Face-off. Campus Face-off is a special program where the anchors invite speakers from major parties, who debate and are questioned by the student audience. In Miranda House, they invited representatives from the three major parties of Delhi- Charu Pragya,  Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), Radhika Khera, Indian National Congress (INC) and Atishi Marlena, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

The anchors, Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai and Ms. Anjana Om Kashyap, conducted an informal session for 30 minutes before the taping, while waiting for the representatives of the parties to arrive. The anchors were asked questions on the current political scenario. When asked about the pressure on media, Ms. Kashyap replied, “Everybody’s perception of how news is being presented is different. We’ve become a very politically polarized country right now.” Rajdeep Sardesai also used this time to promote his new book How Modi Won India in 2019.

While the debate was to be on the issue of “Women Safety, Judgement on Nirbhaya Case, and other issues” in the face of upcoming elections, the panelists also discussed various other issues too, such as Kashmir, the violence in student campuses, economy and unemployment, and the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act-National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Mid-taping, a group of students stood up in the top-left corner of the room, and started silently protesting by holding up posters questioning police brutality, CAA-NRC, internet shutdowns, state of Kashmir, and such ongoing issues. The protestors, who were silent initially, started chanting, “Shame, Shame, Shame” on a comment made by the BJP representative denying the existence of the NRC. When the protestors began sloganeering, Mr. Sardesai asked them to come to the podium, and express themselves. The students expressed their discomfort at the suggestion saying that they stood as a collective, and asking one of them to represent them all would make that representative vulnerable to being targeted.

The protestors then moved to the centre of the room, near the podium, and began sloganeering again. A Kashmiri student then took to the podium and addressed the crowd in a very emotionally charged speech. “Do you know what is AFSPA? What about it’s victims? We are raped. Understand this…  I am not against them (pointing to the panelists). I am against you all (pointing to the crowd). Shame on you… Fuck you. Fuck you sir. Fuck you three also.”

At this, Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai asked them to be removed from the taping, “Madam, you are allowed to speak your views, but you cannot hijack the program.” The Congress representative, then, came and stood with the protesting students.

“The face-off that took place yesterday at the Campus darkened the face of any form of dissent, dialogue, and debate that Miranda has known in the history of its existence. Yes, the anchors allowed questions, but what they also did was make the entire engagement futile…  In the midst of it all, what actually suffered a setback was the culture of radical politics that Miranda prides itself on. The complacency, privilege and comfortable applause of the audiences stood out. The very audience that shamed and policed the tones of the voices of dissent in Miranda, never once questioned the nature of the ongoing debate and their lack of discussion on issues of the marginalized communities. The ones that gathered spine enough to register their protest on a platform as major as this have been let down. The culture of Miranda hangs its head in shame and silence. To begin with, it never was inclusive and ‘woke’ enough to accommodate the marginalized,” said a statement released by the Instagram handle, @mh_studentscollective.

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What went wrong when India Today came to campus: A trajectory of events.

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Anshula, a student present at the taping, said “ Rajdeep Sir, according to me, handled it professionally and asked them to protest silently if they want to. He asked them not to hijack the mic, saying there were other people also waiting to raise their concerns. I, too, support the cause, but feel like they could have used the platform better. They raised valid concerns and questions which are important to all of us, but using foul language invalidates the cause.”

The taping went on for more than two hours and ended around six in the evening.

Feature Image Credits: DU Beat Archives

Satviki Sanjay

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Months ahead of assembly polls in the National Capital, young students associated with various student organisations of Delhi University South Campus colleges joined Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)’s Student wing Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Samiti (CYSS) on Saturday, 28 September. 

Youth and politics go hand in hand at the University. Students from South Campus colleges including Atma Ram Sanatan Dharma and Motilal Nehru College have joined CYSS. They did so in the presence AAP Delhi Convenor and Cabinet Minister, Gopal Rai and Minister of Parliament, Sanjay Singh at the party headquarters.

The students were whole heartedly welcomed in the party by being offered caps, symbolising the party’s signature look. The students also witnessed the presence of the Chief Minister of Delhi, Arwind Kejriwal.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addressed several student leaders, who won elections to various posts in DU Colleges as independent candidates, during their induction into the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Saturday.

The National Convener was told by student leaders that money and nepotism were dominating student politics at the university. Mr. Kejriwal in response to that, said “AAP is the only party where anyone can contest and win elections.”

On being asked about the level of politics in the University and its similarity to the national one, “Politics in the country will change only when there is politics without means. If politicians contest elections with someone’s money, then their accountability will also be limited to them. We changed this type of politics in Delhi. I still have nothing, that is why I am able to think of, and for, the public,” Mr. Kejriwal further added.

Happy Club, a Students’ Union, which focuses exclusively on student centric problems while contesting elections was rumoured to be part of CYSS in the past few months.

Cabinet Minister Gopal Rai said “All these students will lead the pathway of the ideology of AAPs student organisation to their colleges and work towards strengthening the roots of the organisation in their respective colleges.”

“An organisation of students, Happy Club, which has been fighting for the students’ body elections for the past many years in the Delhi University South Campus have joined the party”, added Mr Rai.

All the students and people attached to the Happy Club have joined AAP under the leadership of the director of the club Vinay Udara.

Shivani Singh, State office Bearer, Media Head, CYSS told DU Beat, “We have welcomed all students with open hearts. We believe as AAP works education policies, it has motivated these students to join the party. This also gives us inspiration, in future to raise our movement against privatisation and saffronisation of education, which currently AAP is doing.”

The Chief Minister urged the student leaders to think about the rights and the colleges they represent. He also said that his doors were open if they needed anything including, funds for the development of their respective institutions.

Feature image credits: Stephen Matthew for DU Beat

Chhavi Bahmba 

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Over 2,700 teaching and non-teaching staff of 12 Delhi University (DU) colleges did not get salaries for the last two months as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Government continues to withhold release of funds over non-formation of Governing Bodies (GB).

Out of the 28 DU colleges, 16 get only 5% of their funds from the Delhi Government while 12 receive 100% funding.

The GBs, comprising members nominated by the university and the Delhi Government, take all decisions for the smooth functioning of a college, including the appointment of teaching and non-teaching staff.

Some Principals of various colleges across DU wondered why the GB term could not be extended. “In the past, the term has been extended for almost six months. It can also be done now until the process of formation of the Governing Body is completed,” said a Principal whose college receives 100% funding. “The government should understand that we have to pay salary to the staff and their arrears.”

Dhananjoy Shaw, Principal of Indira Gandhi Institute of Physical Education and Sports Sciences (IGIPESS), said the fund crunch has affected student activities as well. “We haven’t been able to pay salaries to our staff for two months. Since some student activities had been planned before, we are executing them at the lowest possible cost,” he said, adding that managing day-to-day expenses will be difficult from October.

A contrary argument came to the fore when an official in the Delhi Government said that DU is insisting on not forming GBs in these colleges. “It is clear that there is an attempt to shield colleges from accountability and intent to continue corruption,” the official said.

“I am able to manage our daily expenditure somehow as this is not my only income source. But there are many employees whose day-to-day expenditures depend completely on their salary. Due to the ego clashes between the Vice Chancellor Yogesh Tyagi, and the AAP Government, it is the employee who is suffering.” another DU official grieves. 

In a protest organised by Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA), outside Vidhan Sabha on Friday, staff members said that “uncertainty in getting salaries has led to crisis” in these 12 colleges. “The worst-hit are the teaching and non-teaching staff working on ad hoc or contract basis,” DUTA said in a statement.

Delhi University College Karamchari Union (DUCKU) plan to sit on strike on 1st and 3rd October. 

The Vice-Chancellor and Arvind Kejriwal did not respond to requests for comment.


Feature Image Credits: DNA India


Bhagyashree Chatterjee 

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The deadlock of the appointment of Governing Body (GB) heads of the 28 Delhi government funded colleges between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Vice Chancellor broke in March, after a rough patch of one year. AAP alleged on 15th May that the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Yogesh Tyagi has threatened the principals of the 28 colleges under Delhi government against appointing the candidates suggested by the Delhi government for the top posts of the Governing Bodies.

AAP Burari MLA Sanjeev Jha told DNA India, “Before the AAP government in Delhi, any member from the ruling party in Delhi used to be the chairman of the governing body of Delhi University (DU), but now because it is AAP who wants to work for the people, the University has planned to hold elections to have a new chairman. Not only this, they are also putting pressure through the vice chancellor’s office, so that nobody from AAP can be the chairperson of these bodies in any college.” Some colleges under Delhi goverment are Gargi College, Kamala Nehru College, Delhi College of Arts and Commerce, Maharaja Agrasen College, Rajdhani College, Maitreyi College, and Satyawati College (Morning) among others.

According to sources, the Vice Chancellor has suggested Mr. Rajiv Nayan’s name for the post in Satyawati College due to his close relations with him but the college authorities opposed this move. DU may also disqualify his membership for being a panel member of three colleges already.

In a conversation with the DU Beat correspondent, Mr. Shashi Shekhar Singh, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science of Satyawati College stated, “A letter was sent by the Joint Registrar of the University to the principal a night before the meeting stating that the meeting has to be postponed because Mr. Rajiv Nayan has withdrawn from the membership of Aryabhatta College and the college failed to inform the University about the tie in last year’s Governing Body elections. This was the third scheduled meeting to be cancelled, 11 or 12 faculty members had written to the Vice Chancellor on cancellation of the very first meeting but to no avail. The elections had been scheduled for today, the college has no obligation to inform the University about the tie since all the members were aware of it, and elections could have been held smoothly. The University is pressurising the college and interfering in the autonomy of the college. The college is being run without its Governing Body. Absence of a Chairperson and Treasurer has led to a delay in payment of pensions. The University has no right to interfere in this matter of the college.”

Feature Image Credits: DU Beat Archives

Prachi Mehra

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What was once termed as a force to reckon with, is now merely a shadow of its past. Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Samiti (CYSS), the student wing of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) contested in the 2015 Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) elections but did not win. CYSS was the star debutante in the 2015 elections and was perceived at the time a strong opposition to the hegemony established by NSUI and ABVP in previous DUSU elections.
Students who were disappointed with the political climate then considered CYSS as a strong third alternative to clean up the murky politics. Despite huge hoardings of Arvind Kejriwal greeting students and asking for votes, CYSS did not win any seat and scored 16% of the total vote share. Barring a candle-light march to protest against ABVP’s hooliganism in the Ramjas row, it has been relatively absent from the DU political scene in 2017.

While it’s a speculative ‘fact’ that parent party’s win directly correlates to the chances of its student wing winning; why did CYSS lose in 2015, when AAP government raked a record 67 out of 70 seats in the Delhi legislative assembly elections? The agendas of CYSS are largely similar in ideology to AAP’s, which pertain to everyday issues of a student and plan to ensure a corruption-free university.

Anmol Panwar, the CYSS spokesperson and Vice-President, in conversation with DU Beat, said, “We boycotted elections last year because we don’t support the current muscle and money power politics in DUSU. Once DUSU candidates are declared, countless pamphlets are thrown in contravention to the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations (LCR). University authorities are aware, complaints are filed, but no action is taken against the perpetrators. Because of this, independent candidates with great ideas lose out to the bigger parties. If the situation changes, we could contest this year too.”
Leading up to the 2015 elections, CYSS was involved in multiple controversies. In 2015, CYSS faced backlash for putting up ‘fake’ posters of opinion polls that it would win 45% of the total votes; the veracity of which could not be verified. Similarly, opposition parties alleged that more than 50 hoardings had been put up across the capital, which was in violation to LCR which states that candidates cannot spend more than INR 5000 in campaigning. In September the same year, a concert, ‘DU Rocks’ was organised which had celebrities like Jasleen Royal, Vishal Dadlani(AAP supporter) and Arvind Kejriwal himself addressing the gathering.

The LCR clearly calls for disassociation of student elections and student representation from political parties. These allegations, amid dwindling support and lack of trust for AAP government in Delhi back then moulded into a sticky situation for CYSS. There’s always a chance the party may make a comeback, the same depending on their ability to garner support through the LCR guidelines it accuses others of not following.

Image Credits: pumirror.in


Vijeata Balani

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With the last Delhi government bringing in the proposal to provide 90% quota to Delhi students in Delhi University colleges that are 100% funded by it and 50% quota in colleges that are partially funded by it, political parties seem to be jumping on to the bandwagon to reserve seats for the local students in the premier university. Taking a leaf out of their agenda, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) seems geared up for state reservation in the 90 year old University.

The new education minister Manish Sisodia in a recent interview to a national daily about reservation for local students in Delhi University said- “They (the last government) had merely announced it, but we are going to enforce it”. He has his own reasons to take up this issue of reservation in DU. He says that since the citizens of Delhi are paying for these colleges, it should be used by them. Besides, he emphasises the need of a roadmap for 2.57 lakhs students passing out of the city schools every year.

On the contrary, in an interview to DU Beat (one that will be published soon), AAP MLA from Timarpur and Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) Secretary, Harish Khanna had said that since DU is a central university, students from all over the country have equal right to study here. Consisting mostly off-campus colleges, in all there are 12 colleges that are fully funded  and 16 that are partially funded by the state government.

Rohit Chahal of Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) comes out against the move. He said that it has been 14 years since a new college has been established in DU and a central university like DU should be open to students from all over the country. He added that rather than finding a permanent solution to this problem by opening new colleges, AAP and Congress are to be misleading the people.

On the face of it, DU being a Central Educational Institution is governed by the Central Educational Institutions Act, 2006 that does not provide for reservations in the central universities on the basis of domicile. Even the HRD ministry and the DU officials seem sceptical of the futility of this issue. Principals of various colleges have called this move impractical and one that violates DU rules. Nonetheless, this move seems to be a top priority for the new education minister.

When a sea of civilians gathers at Ramlila Maidan, it is the swearing-in ceremony of an ‘Aam Aadmi’.

There is one thing that Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal has said over and over again – Pichle do saal se iss desh mein kuch toh adbhut ho raha hai. (Meaning – Since the past two years, there is something extraordinary happening in this nation). And perhaps, if there one word to describe the spirit of such a crowd, it is indeed extraordinary. Right from the metro station, one is immersed in supportive slogans for the new Chief Minister. As you flow in to swarm of people, there is security intact for the leader that refuses to have guards all around him. The people gathered are constantly engrossed in shouts of “Arvind Kejriwal Zindabad!” and “Dilli hui humari hai, ab India ki baari hai”. With every word in the speech that aims to fight corruption, there is a cheering from the crowd. Finally, the everyday Delhite is content. Despite being a huge crowd, it is a disciplined group of people – the right term being self-disciplined here. Working towards the idea of self-responsibility, the people are focussed to help out with tasks of managing people as well as arranging chairs. Overall, there is a spirit of volunteerism. As sounds of “Bharat Mata ki Jai” fill your ears and the national flag is seen flying high, there is also a spirit of nationalism.

While everyone celebrates Arvind Kejriwal and his victory against established brands of Indian politics, for me it is the celebration that was special. For me, it was all about seeing the satisfaction and the enthusiasm in eyes of the common man/woman.

See entire photo gallery here.